“A Gothic horror story of quite exceptional quality...macabre, bizarre and...quite impossible to put down.”
The above quote is the response of the Financial Times to the best-selling novel, “The Wasp Factory”, and in my opinion, truer words were never spoken. I myself had to force the book out of my hands in the early hours of the morning on several occasions. This clearly says something about the sheer power of Iain Bank’s debut novel. Whether you love it or hate it, once you have read the first page you are instantly struck by it’s brilliance. Throughout this essay, I intend to explore the mind and characteristics of the main character, Frank Cauldhame.
Throughout the story, Frank’s character is brought out through his experiences, of which the most important are possibly the three murders he commits. I am not going to explore how he commits these terrible crimes, but rather why.
Frank’s first victim is his cousin Blyth. He kills Blyth for a relatively simple reason, revenge. Blyth killed Frank and his brother Eric’s rabbits using a makeshift flame-thrower, which Eric had built himself. Eric is completely destroyed by this. So, a year later, Frank decides to settle the score with his cousin. Blyth had an artificial leg, and this was what gave Frank the chance to get even. One day, Frank and Eric, their younger brother Paul ( who is later killed ) and Blyth are lying in the sand. Frank goes for a walk to the Bunker and inside the dark, cold concrete pillbox , he finds an adder. He decides what he is going to do almost instantly. He catches the snake and bundles it into an old tin can. He then returns to the place where he left his cousin and brothers, and puts the snake into the artificial leg. Blyth’s death is slow and painful, and to Frank, this seems very appropriate. The way he sees it, Blyth deserves to die feeling similar agony to that which his rabbits must have felt, and Frank feels no remorse. He tells Eric that he “thought it was a judgement from God that Blyth had first lost his leg and then had the replacement become the instrument of his downfall.” Frank then proceeds to name the area where Blyth was killed as “The Snake Park” This statement is an early indicator of an essential feature of Frank’s character, and that is his belief in symbolism and destiny. We find another example of this when we analyse the death of Frank’s younger brother, Paul.
Frank’s reasons for killing Paul are very different than his reasons for killing Blyth. While he kills Blyth in an act of hateful revenge, he bears no ill will towards Paul. He in fact likes his brother, and got on well with him, so you may ask why then did he feel the need to dispose of his brother. Well, according to Frank, the main reason that he and his brother always got on so well was because he “knew from an early age that he was not long for this world,” so Frank had tried to make his time as enjoyable as possible. Paul is killed by a German bomb that was uncovered by a...